PG | 2h 6min | Action, Adventure | 20 May 1988 (USA) | Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 51% Rotten (Critics), 79% Fresh (Audience)
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: George Lucas, Bob Dolman
Stars: Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis
Movie Tagline: “Beyond Good… Beyond Evil… Beyond your wildest imagination…”
IMDb summary: A young farmer is chosen to undertake a perilous journey to protect a special baby from an evil queen.
PLEASE BE AWARE BEFORE YOU READ ON WE ARE NOT SPOILER-FREE. THANK YOU.
It’s confirmed that Willow will be getting a sequel TV show. As it turns out, Willow is not George Lucas’ best work. With that said, Willow is well-liked by the audience. That could be because its appeal is entirely focused on children and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, that was probably quite a brilliant move at the time of release way back in 1988. There’s certainly a strong debate about whether or not George Lucas has talent as a writer. This film released way after his phenomenal success with the original trilogy of Star Wars films. So it makes sense that he’d want to stretch himself and try something different. It’s hard to tell if the script is lacking or the actors are just not very good.
Before we talk about the not-so-great points of this film, it’s important to note that Ron Howard’s direction of Willow is pretty solid. And the casting of Warwick Davis as Willow is also great. We know Lucas has used Warwick Davis in Star Wars so he may have worked with Howard to include him. But Davis really brings Willow’s character to life, and he is one of the best things about it. It’s also nice to see actors such as Val Kilmer again, although he seems almost a little miscast for his role as the warrior. While he certainly looks the part, his lines seemed awkward and a little silly. Joanne Whalley was quite stiff in her role and equally as miscast as the evil witch’s daughter that falls (reluctantly) in love with the sword-wielding hero.
Despite these things, Willow is still entertaining, and there are some great comedic moments, particularly from the Brownies that end up following Willow on his adventure. They are genuinely funny!
The child actors are also adorable and perfect as Willow’s kids – I mean you can’t call anything that cute bad! But that’s about where things end in terms of highlights. Stiff and awkward acting, obvious stunt-man mistakes and shoddy special effects are too big to ignore. It’s an 80s flick with some not so minor issues. But does that overshadow the magic of this film and its influence on the younger audience?
Ultimately, the magic of Willow is incredibly dated and will burst your bubble if you’re looking to regain the nostalgia of this 80s fantasy flick.